Botswana’s U-23 national soccer team has received a heap of praises from the senior national coach Peter Butler. This follows the Young Zebras’ impressive display when beating Lesotho 2-0 in an international friendly midweek.
Butler believes that the current pool of players will go places should they be given more chance to play international games. According to Butler, the youngsters have a very bright future ahead of them and only need more playing time. Butler has taken the bold step of calling a number of these young players into the senior national team camp to be part of the game against Mozambique this afternoon (Sunday).
Thirteen of Pio Paul’s charges have been included in Butler’s squad and the coach promised that at least six of them will get a run in the Mozambique game. “Botswana has a pool of outstanding and promising young players and they need to be nurtured,” said the coach. Since coming to Botswana the Englishman has been an advocate for the development of young players.
Currently the coach is killing two birds with one stone as he is heading the national team and also working hand in hand with Paul to build a formidable U-23 squad. Speaking at a technical briefing prior the Mozambique match, Butler said he is building the squad for future success.
“When I came here I found a very aging and imbalanced squad. I want to change things and build a young and vibrant team instead. So this is the model of squad selection we are going to be using going forward,” said Butler. Nonetheless, he pointed out that as much as they need young players the service of older experienced players is still vital.
However, the Englishman regretted that most local teams are not supporting his initiative of developing youngsters. He said most of them do not get game time at their respective clubs which is defeating the whole development process. Worst still, he said, there is nothing he can do to influence the coaches and team management on this. “All I can do is plead with them to give these young players the chance nothing more,” he explained. Despite this Butler is confident that in the long run the results will begin to show.
The Zebras are currently on camp to preparing for the upcoming COSAFA games to be played in South Africa in May. On the other hand the U-23 team is also preparing for the Africa Youth Championship games coming in April. The Young Zebras will be taking on Kenya in the first qualifier. With the current form of the teams the coach believes they will do well in the championships.